Robert Mondavi

Robert Mondavi. I’ve had the pleasure of waiting on him and his wife and they were frequent visitors to the restaurant where I worked. By the time I waited on them he was in a wheelchair, and I never heard him speak. He was still an impressive man.

His wife, Margrit, was adorable! So friendly and charming and gracious! She reminded me a lot of Carol Channing with her wide smile and silver bob.

When the Mondavi’s came in for dinner Robert was wheeled in by a younger man and woman, who left after he was comfortable. Margrit took care of ordering and would attentively feed Robert and give him sips of champagne and wine.

A funny thing was they would usually bring their little white dog in it’s carrier. Dog’s aren’t allowed in restaurants unless they are seeing eye dogs, but what could we say? They are the Mondavi’s. Our Napa Valley royalty! Generally the darling little dog was good and quiet, but occasionally it would bark! All of the staff’s eyes would get big as we hoped that none of the guests complained. Sometimes Margrit would let the dog out and feed it under the table. One night as they were leaving and the younger couple had come to take them home, the man was pushing the wheelchair and the woman was holding the door and the little dog started running around through the center of the restaurant! Finally we shooed it out the door and the Mondavi’s were wisked away in their limosine.

We had a large event where the Mondavi’s were guests. I had to talk with the organizer and let him know that Robert was in a wheelchair as they had made no provisions for that and were unaware. They were under the impression that he was going to be giving a speech as well. I had to let them know that was doubtful unless his condition had changed since last I saw him. Margrit Mondavi had sat at Bouchon Bakery hand painting touches on all the menus as souvenirs for all the guests. They were such a lovely elegant touch. I am pleased to say I snagged one of the leftover menus at the end of the night!

Robert Mondavi died peacefully Friday morning, May 16, 2008 at his family home in Yountville, California at the age of 94. We were getting ready to celebrate his 95 birthday in June at Copia with a big event that included many of the world’s top chefs. The hope was that this event would continue in his memory. And what a memory he left.

Cheers to your memory, Robert Mondavi!

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Lost at the State Fair

When I was four or five years old I went to the California State Fair in Sacramento, the state capital(I say this because people who should know that Sacramento is California’s state capital don’t seem to know this. I have had people argue with me, people I thought were intelligent even!) with my parents. I was going to go with my Mom, then decided to go with my Dad, I let go of my Mom’s hand, turned around to go with my Dad, and he was swallowed by the crowd! I turned around to go back with my Mom, and she had disappeared as well! Somehow I found the police or they found me, I can’t remember that part. The police were trying to take me to the police department and I said, “No! No! My parents will find me! We can’t leave!”. And they did. My parents had bought me this huge balloon that was one-of-a-kind. I can vaguely remember it, it was a really big white balloon with red and blue stars on it. Luckily, my parents spotted the balloon and found me with the policemen!

The moral of this story is: buy your kids balloons! Oh, and hold on to their hand tightly in crowds, that too.

Published in: on June 30, 2008 at 8:30 pm  Comments (1)  
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73 Things You Might Not Know About Me…

1. I can dance.
2. I can dance and teach Polynesian dancing. Yes, that means Hawaiian hula, modern and ancient (kahiko), Maori, Tahitian, and a bit of Samoan.
3. I was president of a non-profit organization for 5 years. Ka Ohana O Na Huapala(the family of friends with much love), a non-profit Polynesian cultural group.
4. I love cats, and other animals too, but cats the most.
5. I used to manage a store called Nautilus Tropical Fish and Gifts.
6. I know a lot about taking care of aquariums and the names of most fish.
7. I was beaten up and robbed while working there.
8. I owned my own business for 20 years. I was a Mary Kay Cosmetics Consultant and I had up to seven consultants on my team.
9. I went to Dallas, Texas and Annaheim, California on Mary Kay business trips.
10. I’ve used Mary Kay Cosmetics religiously since I was 19 years old. (Thank you Trudy Ball, now my consultant!)
11. Pink is my favorite color.
12. I collect odd things in pink. I have a pink tool kit and extension cord. I have a large collection of pink depression glass.
13. I know the names of most flowers. I used to be really interested in gardening and read a lot of books. I like planting flowers, gardening.
14. I like to cook and bake.
15. I have over 50 cookbooks. I used to collect them.
16. I used to bake bread from scratch regularly when I was a teenager.
17. When other people wanted to grow up and be doctors and lawyers, I wanted to grow up to be a mom.
18. I took ECE (Early Childhood Education) classes at Fairfield High School to prepare myself to be a mom.
19. I LOVE being a Mom. I believe that I’m not going to be president of the United States, but that the most important thing I’m going to do is be a good parent.
20. I took square dancing lessons as a child.
21. I took bowling lessons as a child.
22. I took swimming lessons as a child.
23. I took ice skating lessons as a child.
24. I took piano lessons as a child.
25. I’m not really good at any of the things I took lessons in as a child.
26. I had a secret code way of writing messages with one of my best friends, Kathy White, in high school. I still remember most of it.
27. I was facinated with witchcraft in junior high school/freshman year of high school.
28. I used to have a palomino pony named Comanche when I was a child and lived up in Issaquah, Washington.
29. We had a creek, May Creek, that ran through our property and I saw salmon spawn.
30. I lived on the side of Tiger Mountain and used to play in the woods.
31. I know how to fish, but I don’t like to eat fish with fins. Yuk!
32. I do like shellfish! Crab, clams, lobster, shrimp, I’m not sure about oysters…I’ve had them smoked and they were good. I’m scared to try them raw.
33. I like to sing. I was in choir through most of grade school and in Acapella in High School. I know the words to a lot of songs.
34. I took knitting lessons at Michael’s Craft Store in Santa Rosa, but I really haven’t practiced. I can crochet a great baby blanket though!
35. I love time travel romance novels. My favorite is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.
36. I love to read. As a teenager I would read romance novels all night until the sun came up and I had to get ready for school.
37. The guy I was in love with during high school, and sometimes dated, was killed in a car crash during my junior year.
38. I like to take pictures. I’m starting to enjoy photography more and more.
39. I love flowers, I love the colors and the smell.
40. I work for the school district with special ed children, mainly autistic children.
41. A few nights a week I work at a fine dining restaurant, thought right now I’m between jobs.
42. I have two intelligent amazing children, girl -19, and boy – 22, they both still live with me.
43. I had a huge wedding, 500 people, a band, my polynesian group performed, I was married to their father for 13 years, actually maybe it was 15 by the time the divorce was final, but those don’t really count.
44. I am a serial entrepreneur. I have 4 websites planned!
45. My first website is thesmartmomsnetwork.com. I’m on my third developer…
46. In Feb. 2007 I founded and am Senior Partner of RW Investments. I run it non-profit. It is an investment club for women.
47. I’m 4 classes away from getting my AA in Liberal Studies.
48. I graduated from the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy (SEA) in 2005.
49. I used to work at Chevy’s Fresh Mex in Fairfield, Villa Romano in Napa, and Julia’s Kitchen in Copia in Napa.
50. My parents live two blocks from me and don’t drive anymore, so I am their chauffeur, and I don’t mind at all! They did it for me, now it’s my turn.
51. I write poetry.
52. I have family on my dad’s side in Washington State, and family on my mom’s side in Tennessee. No other family besides my parents and kids and I here in California.
53. My Dad was in communications with the Air Force for 22 years, he retired when I was five. Then he worked for Boeing making airplanes in Washington, then ended up retiring from the Fairfield Post Office as a mail carrier. My Mom taught kindergarten, worked as a cashier in restaurants, worked in a post office in Alaska, had a business called The Happy Hangers with her friend Cathy Miller where they did wallpapering, then had Mary and Gerry’s Yesteryear Antiques with her friend Mary Miller(not related to Cathy). She retired after working in the office at the mobile home park we live in.
54. When I was married we had two houses, the second one was huge, two story, four bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a huge backyard that we put a barked in play area for the kids with a swingset and fort and playhouse, and a huge fenced in oval doughboy pool. We lost that back to the bank, my ex talked me into declaring bankrupcy right before he asked for a divorce. Now I live in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath mobile home. Just for now. I’ll have a nice cozy house with a fireplace again soon, just wait and see! When all my sites are done on the internet…I’ll be the next big thing!
55. My son started taking college classes in eighth grade. He took Intro to Programming, CIS 1, and Into to Networking. I took all of these classes with him. He also took Fencing, which I didn’t take with him. He was in Acadeca, Academic Decathalon his senior year at Fairfield High School. He went to Europe for three weeks and visited Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic. He attended the San Francisco Academy of Arts University for one year, and was going to major in Computers, New Media. He wasn’t sure if this was really his life’s passion, so he dropped out to re-evaluate. He’s worked at Hot Topic, H & M, and currently at Barnes and Nobles. He loves to read.
56. My daughter was in Honors and AP classes. She was on the Yearbook Staff as Asst. Editor and formed a Knitting Club. She is attending the local community college completing her general ed. She graduated from the Hex Makeup School with her certificate in Makeup Artistry. She has worked for her father re-stocking at the commisary and currently is working at PVE (Paradise Valley Estates) in food service and freelancing as a makeup artist.
57. I took 3 semesters of Ballroom Dancing.
58. I have no fear of public speaking. None. A stage? A mic? A camera? I’m READY!
59. I’ve never colored my hair.
60. I pull out the gray hairs that show! I may have to start coloring it soon.
61. I have very long natural fingernails, but rarely paint them.
62. For some reason I have scissors in almost every room of my house. I just recently realized I do this!
63. When I was four or five I got lost at the California State Fair.
64. I started talking very early as a child, at 9 months old. Even before I could walk. By the time I was 12 months old I was talking in complete sentences and singing songs.
65. I did some modeling. I modeled shoes for Darlington’s. I modeled for a couple of friends who were photographers. One had an old fashioned photo booth and he used my pics for his display.
66. When I was in high school I volunteered at the S.P.C.A. Sometimes I was there by myself. Sometimes I had to supervise the bad kids who were sent there to do community service. That was a little scary. That’s why I quit.
67. I was in a pageant. I didn’t win but I was a fair hostess for the Solano County Fair.
68. While I was a fair hostess I got to ride in a helicopter!
69. I’ve been on TV! It was a local channel that filmed the school board meeting. The principal at my children’s school asked me to teach some children a Hawaiian song for multicultural week. I had to get up in front of the school board and introduce the children and explain what the song/dance was about. It was fun!
70. Chocolate is my favorite food, especially dark chocolate. Next favorite is Chicken Kiev.
71. I love to exfoliate! Buff, scrub, pumice, loofah…i adore it all!
72. I had viral menengitis when I was three and lived in Goose Bay Labrador. I almost died.
73. I was adopted. (see other post)

Keep to the Right People!

get out of the way!  move to the right and park!Rrrrr! Rrrrrr! Rrrrrrrr! You hear the emergency vehicle noise and you move over to the right and stop. Well that’s what you are supposed to do, but last night as I drove home from Barnes and Nobles not everyone was with the program. All the cars in the right lane where I was pulled over to the right and stopped, but three cars in the left lane pulled to the left and stopped! I was rather incredulous and I’m quite sure the ambulance driver felt the same. The ambulance with sirens screaming had room to go through the middle, but I think he was so annoyed at their lack of protocol that he stopped behind them and waited for them to get a clue and finally move to the right.

Just a reminder, remember and follow your safety rules people! If you hear emergency vehicle sirens, move the the right and park.

Be warned! Next time I’m taking pictures!

Photo credit for the emergency vehicle above goes to my dear friend, the extremely talented photographer – Photos © Frank Lazeski
Anphog@aol.com.

Facebook Geek Girl Dinner


Just to let you know…I started blogging on BlogHer.com. I’m a bit confused on where I want to blog. Bear with me. Or would that be bare with me…yes…that would be it…not the animal…lol…

Okay-to start off with their was no dinner-but there were appetisers. Last night I went to the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner #2: Sponsored by Facebook. It was held at Ettiquette Lounge in San Francisco. It was such a fun event! To start with I didn’t know if I was geeky enough to go. I mean I blog…I’m starting a website (The Smart Moms Network) but…I’m not the developer. I’ve taken beginning programming and networking but that was as far as I got. I realized it wasn’t my thing. I asked Retro Audrey, one of the event organizers if I would fit in and she said yes, come. I knew a lot of these women were hardcore programmers so I wasn’t sure, but I thought it would be a really interesting event and possibly a good networking opportunity.

I brought along Holly, who is even less geeky than I, but very fun to hang with. We met at the parking lot and walked over. I fell out of the parking lot area and skinned my knee. I had blood dripping down, but somehow my supersonic L’eggs pantyhose escaped without a tear, run or hole!?!

At Ettiquette we were greeted with a red carpet entrance! Upon entering we were given cool name badges and two drink tickets. I was rather impressed that the drink tickets were for anything we wanted, not just cheap beer or wine! Facebook rocks! I had a raspberry mojito and a pandora’s box. Both were excellent! The bartenders at Ettiquette rock, too!

It was a small venue with approximately 200 in attendance, I was told. The panel included:
» Ruchi Sanghvi (Principal Product Manager, Facebook)
» Julie Zhuo (Product Designer, Platform, Facebook)
» Alina Libova (Founder and Developer, Easter Eggs)
» Holly Liu (User Experience and Co-Founder, Watercooler)
» Annie Chang (Co-Founder, LOLapps)

Moderator:
Sandra Liu Huang (Program Manager, Facebook)

Introduction:
Cyan Banister (Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Zivity)

All the women were amazing and accomplished. The sassy and scandalous Cyan Banister(http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/29/1938media-interview-with-zivity-cofounder-cyan-banister-guest-appearance-by-scoble-at-end/), co-founder and editor-in-chief at Zivity started us off with her introduction. I had to wonder why Facebook hasn’t hired Alina Libova, a UC Berkeley college student and the founder and developer of the Easter Eggs application? I snagged her email address in case I am in need of her skills someday for one of my websites! There were plenty of women headhunters from Facebook who seemed to be looking to hire. I would LOVE to work for Facebook, but Palo Alto is a bit too far of a drive for me.

The panel spoke about their accomplishments and the challenges and rewards of being a woman in a male dominated field. Listening to Ruchi gave us a taste of what it must have been like to be part of the beginning with Facebook. The women also spoke of the importance of user feedback and how immediate it can be on the internet. User feedback kept Annie Chang busy changing her apps to meet the users wants when she was heavily involved with LOLapps.

Right now I can only imagine how exciting it is to be on the ground floor as a website launches, and to get that user feedback and see your site grow. Soon I won’t have to imagine though, it will be my turn to be part of that as The Smart Moms Network launches, and I can’t wait!

After the panel talks and discussion we broke up for networking. It was a little difficult networking because no one seemed prepared for it. No one had business cards handy. The women speakers in the panel all kept saying that their business cards were in their backpacks in the back. (Apparently hardcore geek girls carry backpacks instead of purses.) Back to the bar for my second drink. Yes, we tipped the bartenders well! There was a spot for Geeky pictures with props, so Holly and I had some fun with some geek glasses. We also enjoyed the appetisers, the wasabi shrimp being my favs. A DJ was on hand through the night, though more for atmosphere than dancing. I recognized Retro Audrey right away from her Facebook photo, it was fun to say hello to her, she said she recognised me too!

To end the night we were presented with schwag!!! Did we get pocket protectors? No! Our schwag included a soft American Apparel lavender w/purple trim T-shirt with the Facebook Developer Garage – Geek Girl Dinner logo and a nifty wifi detector keychain! Retro Audrey was handing them out. After everyone had been through the line there were a few left over and she offered me an extra t-shirt for my daughter! She was a doll!

I can’t wait for their next event! Facebook and the Geek Girls did it high class all the way.

I love being a geek girl! Where’s my backpack!?!

P.S. I ALSO love blog comments! Leave one, please!

photo credits ~ Laura N Holly standing, Laura with another geek girl, Laura and Holly, geek panel from the back of the room photos by Icka Boo. Geek panel speaks, geek panel geeky, geek room, retro audrey, Etiquette, Ettiquette Inside by Vanessa Naylon.

Family Changes

So my family has been going through a lot of changes. Changes like me being laid-off and home all the time, changes in the eating habits of the kids, and changes like me starting to go to the gym.

It’s been interesting being home. I thought I wanted it. I thought it would be the most wonderful thing in the world and I would get SO much done. The truth is that I’m bored sometimes and lonely too because I have all this free time and the kids work and have their own friends and so I’m home alone at loose ends. I’ve finally started to work on the house, and boy does it need it! I’ve given a bunch of stuff away to freecycle.org in the last two days, cleaned my porch mostly, I still need to vacuum it though. It’s really hard for me to get rid of stuff. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been a packrat. Part of it may be having gone through a divorce you feel like you lose so much that you don’t want to let anything you do have go. But I’ve always been like this to some degree. I read a book recently, “Clear Your Clutter with FENG SHUI” by Karen Kingston, and I get it, I get why it is important to clear your clutter and how it could improve your life. It’s just really hard to let go of stuff still. Some things are harder than others of course. I can let go of the dress that I paid 99 cents for at the thrift store and really didn’t end up fitting me that well anyways, but the really cute dress that I bought at Macy’s for a wedding that is too small for me right now but might fit me after I work out for a couple of months, that I don’t know if I can get rid of. I guess I’ll start with the easy things. I thought I would get more done, but I’ve found myself spending hours upon hours on sitting in front of my computer screen. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve made some new friends, but I need to rebalance my time management! That’s my goal right now.

Our eating habits have gone through some changes since I’ve been home. To start off with when the kids were little and I was a stay-at-home mom or SAHM I used to cook 6 nights a week, and one night a week we would go out or get fast food. Since I have been working two jobs, I am lucky to cook one night a week, I’m usually too tired and I usually had the money to just go out or pick something up. Now that I’m home, I’ve started cooking again every night. I’ve had some hits and misses in the cooking department, but I’m rediscovering how much I love to cook! The thing is, now that I’m getting the hang of cooking every night again, my kids have decided to change their eating habits. My 22 year old son has now become a vegan, and my 19 year old daughter is currently on a juice fast. The outcome of this has been that the lovely meatloaf cooked in a bag with veges that I made two nights ago, I have had to eat by myself for two nights, and now I’m tired of it and throwing the rest out. Apparently, I’m going to need to learn to cook vegan or be eating alone. This should be interesting.

Lastly, the gym. I used to go to the gym faithfully. I used to read workout books and Self Magazine (or is it Shape) and be hardcore about going to the gym 5 days a week. I worked out with free weights and machines 2 days a week curcuit training and then did aerobics classes the other three days. I was in fantastic shape! And then I stopped. And then the last 15 years I guess I have been working two jobs and sometimes going to college and there just didn’t seem to be any way to fit in a work out regularly, so I didn’t do it at all. Last year I joined 24 Hour Fitness and planned to go work-out with my daughter. I’ve gone three times, and two of those three times were in the last week. I’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes and they told me I should lose some weight and exercise (I always have to check how to spell the word exercise, I want to make it excersize or something else), anyway, I need to be exercising. So, now I’ve started. I went twice with my daughter in the last week. One day we just did the stairmaster, the next day we worked out on the weight machines and also the stairmaster. It’s all starting to come back to me. The things I used to know, the techniques, the enjoyment of working out and being fit! The thing is, I don’t know if I can keep this all up or not once I start back to work. I guess I’ll cross that hurdle when I come to it. How do you balance work, fitness, and all the other stuff you have to do?

Now the 22 year old son brought home 3 yoga/meditation DVD’s. Who knows what my house will be like next week?

MySpace Haiku

email ~ new blog post
friend requests ~ always new bands
hey comment me back

Twitter Haiku

hear the birds twitter
in the trees, on the screen too
whales ride through the sky

Adoption ~ My Story

I was adopted. No, no I wasn’t in an orphanage or anything. It wasn’t like Shirley Temple. It was pre-arranged before I was born by a mutual friend of my moms, Judy Donohoe. My Mom, Gerry Brewer, had several miscarriages and it was determined that she couldn’t have children. My birth mom, Grace Gordon, got pregnant by someone who wasn’t her husband while her husband, Jim Gordon, was away in the Air Force. Jim said, “It’s the baby or me!” Back in 1960 not many women worked or had careers. Abortion was illegal until 1973 when the U.S.Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that during the first trimester, a woman has the right to decide what happens to her body. It would have been a hard life for Grace and her children if she had gotten divorced. So, being 1960, and Grace having other children, she gave me up for adoption.

I was born on April 26, 1960 at Intercommunity Hospital in Fairfield, California. At nine days old I went home from the hospital with my new family and Laura Jane Brewer became a spoiled but sweet only child who had a pony. Apparently, my birth mom, Grace, would call and check on me until my parents asked her not to. It scared them too much because the birth mom can ask for the baby back up until it’s six months old. Also there was an incident when my parents were out at a pizza restaurant. Their name was called out, “Brewer!”, to come pick up their pizza, a woman with long reddish hair came up and asked them their name then hurried away. They think it must have been my mom. They all lived on Travis AFB, CA at the time.

I’ve never met my birth mom, but I’d like to meet her. I tried to search for her on the internet, but it’s a common name, and who knows if she stayed with her husband? She could have remarried and have a totally different name. Somewhere out there I have two or three or more half brothers and sisters. I’d love to meet them, to know them, to see if they look like me. Then there is my fathers side of the family, that’s another total mystery.

Being adopted is sometimes difficult. I don’t know my heritage. I don’t know my nationality. When the doctor asks I don’t know if I have a family history of any diseases, like heart disease or breast cancer. Maybe my family is rich!? Maybe I am decended from royalty!? Maybe they are poor and I could help them. I just don’t know?

But on the flip side, I have wonderful parents. I could not have been more loved. Although I think Grace loved me and was really torn up by the decision she had to make, I think she made the right one. She gave two people who desperately wanted a baby to love her child and made them a family. Thank you Grace.